VATICAN CITY (November 21, 2016) – Pope Francis installed 17 new cardinals at a consistory on November 19, 2016, the evening prior to the close of the Jubilee Year of Mercy at St. Peter Basilica on Sunday, November 20. Among the cardinals installed were the first ever from the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in its more than 300-year history: Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga C.S.Sp., and Cardinal Maurice Piat C.S.Sp.
In his homily during the consistory, Pope Francis welcomed the new cardinals with the greeting, “My dear brothers, newly created Cardinals, the journey towards heaven begins in the plains, in a daily life broken and shared, spent and given. In the quiet daily gift of all that we are. Our mountaintop is this quality of love; our goal and aspiration is to strive, on life’s plain, together with the People of God, to become persons capable of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga C.S.Sp., Archbishop of Bangui (Central African Republic) was born on March 14, 1967 in Mbomou, in the Diocese of Bangassou, Central African Republic. After primary school, he entered the junior seminary of St Louis of Bangassou and, afterwards the senior seminary, the Holy Apostles of Otélé, Cameroon, to study philosophy. He then continued his theological studies at Daniel Brottier Senior Seminary, in Libreville, Gabon.
He took his first vows with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit on September 8, 1993, and his final vows on September 6, 1997. He was ordained to the priesthood on August 9, 1998.
In 2009, he was appointed as apostolic administrator of Bangui, and on May 14, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him metropolitan archbishop of Bangui. He received his episcopal consecration on July 22 of the same year.
In July, 2013, he became the president of the Episcopal Conference of the Central African Republic, and as such, in October, 2014, attended the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family.
In November, 2015, he received Pope Francis in his diocese, who, in Bangui, opened the first holy door of the Holy Year of Mercy.
Cardinal Dieudonné is the youngest among the new class of cardinals, and the first ever from the Central African Republic.
Cardinal Maurice Piat C.S.Sp., Archbishop of Port-Louis, Mauritius, was born in Moka, in the Diocese of Port-Louis, on July 19, 1941. After secondary studies in Holy Spirit College, in Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius, he entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in Ireland, where he made his first religious profession on September 8, 1962. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from University College-Dublin, he was sent to the Pontifical French College in Rome and completed a licence in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian College in 1972.
He was ordained to the priesthood on August 2, 1970. On January 21, 1991, he was appointed as coadjutor to the then archbishop of Port-Louis, Cardinal Jean Margéot, and was ordained a bishop on May 19 of the same year. On March 15, 1993, he was appointed Archbishop of the Diocese of Port-Louis.
He was president of the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean (C.E.D.O.I) from 1996-2002, and again from 2013 until September of this year (2016).
Since 2000, he was a member of the Permanent Committee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (S.C.E.A.M.) In October, 2015, he participated in the Synod of Bishops on the Family.
Out of the new cardinals, seven come from countries that have previously never had a cardinal, including: the Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Mauritius Island, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Lesotho and Albania.
With the 17 new cardinals included in the College of Cardinals, the number of voting cardinals comes to 121, and the number of non-voters to 107, for a grand total of 228.
In concluding his remarks to the 17 new cardinals, Pope Francis enjoined them to be like Jesus, “who constantly desires to enter the crossroads of our history to proclaim the Gospel of Mercy. Jesus continues to call us and to send us to the ‘plain’ where our people dwell. He continues to invite us to spend our lives sustaining our people in hope, so that they can be signs of reconciliation. As the Church, we are constantly being asked to open our eyes to see the wounds of so many of our brothers and sisters deprived of their dignity, deprived in their dignity.
“Today each of you, dear brothers, is asked to cherish in your own heart, and in the heart of the Church, this summons to be merciful like the Father. And to realize that if something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life,” the pope said.